Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

First gay couple wed in France amid tight security after controversial new legislation sparked violent protests

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau tie the knot in historic wedding in Montpellier

Why is it that Europe stigmatises modern Hungary?

There have been eruptions of racial hatred in France and the Netherlands without the same questioning of their fundamental democracy, says Hungary's Deputy Prime Minister

Peter Sunde

Career change: Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde to stand in European Parliament elections

A co-founder of Pirate Bay has decided to make a radical career change and stand in the 2014 European Parliament elections in Finland.

German neo-Nazi accused of ‘vile’ murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman

As the trial resumed of the sole surviving alleged member of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, Beate Zschäpe was accused of complicity in the murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman.

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power

Thousands of leftist supporters march through Paris in protest over Hollande's first year

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris today to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

NF founder Jean-Marie Le Pen leads a Paris May Day rally

France takes to the streets as disaffected voters turn to far-right

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of France in traditional May Day rallies marked by calls for an end to President François Hollande’s austerity policies, which many blamed for record numbers of jobless.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warns government against using English language

Ayrault asks his ministers to stop using English words in their work

Anti-gay marriage protesters in Paris on Tuesday night

Church versus Republic: Disturbing gay marriage protests stir old demons in France

World Focus: Success of the the demonstrations has been built on right-wing fury

Clashes between protesters and riot police in France after gay marriage law clears last hurdle

Relief in Parliament contrasts with ugly street battles as right-wing protest turns violent

A pro gay marriage militant is arrested by anti-riot police officers during a demonstration by supporters of the anti-gay marriage movement 'La Manif Pour Tous' (Demonstration for all!) in Nantes, western France. The final vote on France's landmark bill allowing gay marriage has been fast-tracked to next week and has proved hugely controversial in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic (AFP)

French politicians scuffle over same-sex marriage legislation

Scuffles broke out in the French parliament in the early hours of as right-wing opposition to a gay marriage law becomes increasingly strident and ill-tempered.

Nicolas Maduro gives a victory speech in Caracas early yesterday

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles refuses to throw in towel after narrow presidential poll defeat to Nicolas Maduro

Opposition leader calls for recount ‘of every vote’ in Venezuela’s disputed presidential election

A coffin is carried up the steps of St Paul's Cathedral during a rehearsal for the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher funeral: Demonstrators 'given go-ahead' to turn backs on coffin during procession as guerilla protest plans gather pace

Nearly 300 protesters sign-up to turn backs on former Prime Minister's coffin during procession

Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela election in highly contested result

Voters narrowly elected Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor as president today, in a razor-close election.

Donald MacInnes: I’m possibly better at one-to-one stuff

Tales from the Water Cooler

Gallery: How the front pages covered Margaret Thatcher's death

The front pages of all UK national newspapers this morning led with yesterday's news of the death of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?